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Canongate Books

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Canongate Books

Canongate Books
Founded 1973
Country of origin United Kingdom
Headquarters location Edinburgh, Scotland
Distribution The Book Service (UK)
Publication types Books
Official website

Canongate Books (often simply Canongate) is a Scottish independent publishing firm based in Edinburgh; it is named for The Canongate, an area of the city. It is most recognised for publishing the Booker Prizewinner Life of Pi. Canongate was named Publisher of the Year in 2003 and 2009.


Canongate was founded in 1973 by Stephanie Wolfe Murray and her husband Angus Wolfe Murray.[1] Originally a speciality press focusing on Scottish-interest books, generally with small print runs, its most major author was Alasdair Gray. In 1994 it was purchased from the receiver in a management buyout led by Jamie Byng, using funds provided by his stepfather Christopher Bland and his father-in-law Charlie McVeigh, and began to publish more general works, including the Pocket Canons editions of books of the Bible, as well as the Payback Press and Rebel Inc. imprints.[2][3] Byng is now the Publisher and Managing Director of the company.

In June 2010 it was announced that a "living archive" of Canongate Books was to be established at the University of Dundee in collaboration with the University's Archive Services, which will be used for teaching and research.[4][5]

Partners and joint ventures

Canongate once had a sister company in Australia, Text Publishing; Canongate's majority interest was sold in 2011.[6] It also has joint venture operations with the children's publisher Walker who will publish selected titles for their Young-adult fiction list.[7] Grove/Atlantic, Inc. publishes under the Canongate U.S. imprint, also under a joint venture arrangement.[8] In March 2010, Canongate and Dirtee Stank announced a joint venture agreement to publish Dizzee Rascal's memoir, although this agreement later fell though.[9]

Canongate is part of the Independent Alliance, a global alliance of ten UK publishers and their international publishing partners.[10] In 2009, the Alliance was the UK's fifth largest publisher.[11]

Enhanced Editions and Canongate also work in partnership in the production of selected books enhanced for the iPhone and iPod Touch.[12] The titles that have been released are: Dreams From My Father, The Audacity of Hope, The Death of Bunny Munro and The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.

Notable authors and works

Julian Assange

  • Julian Assange – the Unauthorised Autobiography (2011). Assange's autobiography was published without his consent, and Canongate and Assange gave differing accounts of the events surrounding publication.[13][14]

The Mighty Boosh

Noel Fielding (with Mighty Boosh member Dave Brown)

Nick Cave

  • The Death of Bunny Munro (2009), the second novel by musician Nick Cave,[15] was announced in 2008. It was published in hardback, audiobook, ebook and iPhone application formats in September 2009.

David Eagleman

Michel Faber

  • The Crimson Petal and the White (2002), a historical novel set in Victorian England. Faber followed this with a collection of stories, 'The Apple' (2006).

Alasdair Gray

Matt Haig

  • The Radleys (2010)

Steven Hall

Miranda July

Yann Martel

  • Life of Pi (2001, Canongate edition 2002), the first Scottish-published book to win the Booker Prize or to sell a million copies in its first year.[17] An illustrated hardback edition was published in 2007.
  • Beatrice and Virgil (2010), an allegory of the Holocaust using a donkey named Beatrice and a howler monkey named Virgil.[18]

James Meek (author)

Barack Obama

Philip Pullman

Dizzee Rascal

  • The Dizzee Rascal Story (2010)[20]

David Shrigley

  • What The Hell Are You Doing? (2010)[21]

David Simon

Martin C. Strong [22]

  • The Great Rock Discography, 1st ed. (1994)
  • The Great Rock Discography, 2nd ed. (1995)
  • The Great Rock Discography, 3rd ed. (1996)
  • The Great Rock Discography, 4th ed. (1998)
  • The Great Rock Discography, 5th ed. (2000)
  • The Great Rock Discography, 6th ed. (2002)
  • The Great Rock Discography, 7th ed. (2004)
  • The Great Metal Discography, 1st ed. (1998)
  • The Great Metal Discography, 2nd ed. (2002)
  • The Wee Rock Discography (1996)
  • The Great Alternative & Indie Discography (1999)
  • The Great Indie Discography, 2nd ed. (2003)
  • The Essential Rock Discography (2006)
  • Lights, Camera, Soundtracks (2008)

Scarlett Thomas

Simon Tofield

  • Simon's Cat (2009), the award-winning[23] animation was published in book format in October 2009.[24]

Canongate Myth Series, in which contemporary authors re-imagine ancient myths from a variety of cultures


See also


  1. ^ Lucinda Byatt, "Jamie Byng and Canongate", Solander magazine, Historical Novel Society, UK, Vol. 19, May 2006.
  2. ^ Catherine Deveney, "Canongate Books - The mane man", The Scotsman, 24 October 2005.
  3. ^ Iain Sharp, "Bada Byng, bada boom",, 9 July 2006.
  4. ^ "'"University and Canongate link to form 'Living Archive.  
  5. ^ "Canongate Books". Archives records and Artefacts at the University of Dundee. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Jason Steger, "Text Publishing starts next chapter", The Age, 26 June 2004.
  7. ^ Catherine Neilan, "Canongate and Walker create joint young adult imprint", The Bookseller, 15 December 2009.
  8. ^ Paul Rogerson, "Modest helping of Pi brings slimmer profits at Canongate", The Herald, 3 November 2005.
  9. ^ Phil Miller, "Rascal teams up with Scottish publisher", The Herald, 5 March 2010.
  10. ^ Independent Alliance
  11. ^ Catherine Neilan, "Indie Alliance becomes 'fifth biggest publisher'", The Bookseller, 24 January 2010.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Assange, Julian (22 September 2011). "Julian Assange: Statement on the Unauthorised, Secret Publishing of the Julian Assange "autobiography" by Canongate". Wikileaks. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  14. ^ Davies, Nick (22 September 2011). "Why we are publishing Julian Assange's (unauthorised) autobiography".  
  15. ^ Catherine Neilan, "Canongate buys Nick Cave novel", Bookseller, 12 September 2008.
  16. ^ "Stephen Fry's Twitter posts on David Eagleman novel sparks 6000% sales spike", The Telegraph, 11 September 2009.
  17. ^ Liam McDougall, "Life Of Pi hits one million sales as Spielberg eyes movie chance", Sunday Herald, 10 August 2003.
  18. ^ "Pi author plans Holocaust novel", BBC, 31 October 2009.
  19. ^ "Canongate pulls off Obama coup", The Scotsman, 11 March 2007.
  20. ^ "Dizzee Rascal memoir to Canongate" The Bookseller.
  21. ^ Interview: David Shrigley, artist.
  22. ^ "Music Reference Books by Martin C. Strong", FolkLib Index.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Catherine Neilan, "Canongate buys Simon's Cat", Bookseller, 13 January 2009.
  25. ^ "Canongate ... I liked it so much I bought the company",
  26. ^ Richard Lea, "Award-winning film-maker scoops short story prize", Guardian, 24 September 2007.
  27. ^ British Book Design and Production Awards 2008 - Winners.
  28. ^ "Former Vietnamese refugee claims Dylan Thomas Prize", CBC, 11 November 2008.
  29. ^ Murray Wardrop, "Barack Obama triumphs at British Book Awards with Dreams From My Father", The Daily Telegraph, 4 April 2009.
  30. ^ Alison Flood, "Obama helps Canongate become publisher of the year", The Guardian, 2 June 2009.
  31. ^ Alison Flood, "Geoff Dyer wins Wodehouse prize for comic fiction",, 29 May 2009.
  32. ^ Alison Flood, "Vietnamese refugee wins Australian prime minister's award for fiction", The Guardian, 3 November 2009.

External links

  • Canongate Books website
  • Branching-Out Guide to Independent PressesThe
  • Interview with Canongate – Publisher of the Year; Lisa Glass talks to Jamie Byng
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